What Are Dental Fillings?


Sometimes during one of your trips to the dentist, you are told that you need a tooth filled in. Even when you regularly brush your teeth, the food, lifestyle and old age will deteriorate your teeth. The plaque that remains in your mouth even after brushing and flossing will slowly eat away a portion of a tooth until it creates a hole called a cavity. The body cannot repair the damaged tooth so people have developed a way of saving decayed teeth.

When do you need a tooth filling and what happens during the process?

Finding the Cavity

Cavities in teeth are caused by tooth decay. If you have had a cavity for some time without consulting a dentist, they could cause toothache. Examining your teeth will reveal these cavities as holes in your teeth usually with a darker portion. Dental fillings repair broken teeth as well as fill up cavities caused by tooth decay.

Removing the Decay

The dentist will find the cavities by examining your teeth or through the use X-rays to look at places not easily reached like in between teeth. If you come to the dentist complaining of a toothache, you will be given a local anesthesia so the decayed portion call be drilled and examined. Sometimes, when the damage is too extensive, a tooth extraction may be required instead of a filling.

Filling a Tooth

The dentist may use a drill, laser or an air abrasion instrument to remove all the decay. Then the area is cleaned of all debris before a filling is molded. When all the damaged portion is removed, the cavity is filled then polished. The dentist makes sure the filling is molded to the shape of your tooth so it does not chip or break. Colored fillings, also known as composites, are applied in layers and hardened by a special light. Then it is polished.

Types of Fillings

The types of fillings are amalgam, gold, silver, composites, ceramics and glass ionomer. Amalgam is cheap, durable, and lasts long. However it could tarnish after some time and will not match the color of your teeth. Gold is also durable but does not corrode. It’s expensive and still don’t match the color of your teeth. Silver lasts longer than the others. Composites are cheaper than gold but match the teeth color. The filling process takes more time because they are placed in layers. Ceramics are brittle but do not stain easily. Glass ionomer match the teeth color and is also applied in layers like composites. It is weaker than composites however.

Some Problems

Some patients are allergic to amalgam and silver dental fillings, but there are very few cases of these. Dental fillings are also sensitive to cold and hot food and drinks. If the sensitivity or pain does not disappear after a month, you will need a toothpaste with a special formula or you should go back to your dentist. Over time, the fillings will deteriorate from use. Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups.

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